As each individual relies upon the helpful vigilance of the state, he learns to abandon to its responsibility the fate and wellbeing of his fellow-citizens. But the inevitable tendency of such abandonment is to deaden the living force of sympathy, and to render the natural impulse to mutual assistance inactive.

—Wilhelm Humboldt. The Sphere and Duties of Government, 1792.

The need to help a fellow human being who has fallen on hard times is a basic instinct of humanity. Its cultivation and expression is one of the bonds that form society. But when the state taxes people and forces them to give to others, it removes any feeling of compassion.

It is far better for government to allow charitable organizations and benevolent feelings to develop naturally than to strangle them with nationalized, compulsory charity. The less welfare and taxes there are, the more charitable institutions will flourish. These will provide more targeted and more wholesome assistance to struggling citizens than the government ever could.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove